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Crown drops charges against former MP, MPP and pastor for attending Church of God services in Aylmer, Ont.


A year-and-a-half after a former MP, MPP and pastor at the Church of God were charged for violating the Reopening Ontario Act amid COVID-19 restrictions, the Crown has officially dropped its charges.

According to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), the group representing the three men, charges against former MP Derek Sloan, former MPP Randy Hillier and Pastor Henry Hildebrandt were dropped by the Crown on Monday.

The three men were allegedly involved in peaceful rallies against COVID-19 measures in the spring of 2021 and were facing charges for violating public health orders under the Reopening Ontario Act.

Last year, the Province of Ontario implemented attendance limits on events throughout the province, including on religious services.

Despite the new regulations, the Church of God in Alymer still held indoor services that far exceeded the maximum number of attendees, and parishioners were seen without masks and in close proximity to each other.

In April 2021, former MP for Hastings-Lennox and Addington Sloan and MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston Hillier were charged under Ontario’s Reopening Act for attending service at the controversial church.

In a 2021 video posted by the church to YouTube, both Sloan and Hillier were called by Hildebrandt to give a short speech.

“There is no foundation on which we can build than Jesus Christ our rock, our Lord and our saviour. God bless you and God bless Canada,” said Sloan in the video.

“It brings tears to ones eyes to see so many people,” Hillier added.

In a Simcoe, Ont. courtroom, the charges were dropped under Section 10 of the Act.

In a statement, Bally Hundal, a lawyer retained by the JCCF said the prosecution no longer felt it was in the public interest to pursue the charges.

On Monday, CTV News London spoke with the men at the centre of the controversy, including Sloan.

“We were protesting the government’s specific policies in question at the time,” he said. “We weren’t just partying. So I think it’s the right thing to do, I think people want to move on and move forward. We exercised our right to free speech and association, and the prosecution made the right decision.”

The charges carried potential penalties of fines up to $100,000, and minimums of $10,000.

— With files from CTV News London’s Jaden Lee-Lincoln and Jordyn Read Top Stories

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